The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 30 September 2016

Image: Getty Images

Meet the mayors

This weekend Brazilians will vote for the mayors to represent each one of the country’s 5,570 cities, from São Paulo with almost 12 million residents to Borá, the smallest municipality with about 800 inhabitants. During the past turbulent political year, which included the impeachment of former Workers’ Party president Dilma Rousseff, campaigns for Brazil’s local elections have been considerably more understated than in former races. What’s already clear is that the Workers’ Party is set to be hit by big losses in the country on Sunday. São Paulo’s candidate for re-election, Fernando Haddad, is currently in fourth place, while centre-right contender, businessman and TV presenter João Dória is ahead with 28 per cent of the vote. Meanwhile in Rio, bishop Marcelo Crivella of the Brazilian Republican Party is leading the pack. It looks like the vote will remain undecided in the nation’s primary cities and go to a second round on 30 October.

Image: Reuters

Turkish plight?

Turkey has been in a state of emergency since mid-July, a decree imposed in the aftermath of its failed coup, which gives the state executive powers to weed out coup-plotters from society. Of course, it hasn’t quite stopped there. This week extraordinary measures allowed 12 Kurdish and Alevi television stations to be swiftly shuttered and yesterday it was announced that the status quo will likely extend for another three months. The limit of any such measures is capped at six months by Turkey’s constitution but the president has already suggested that a total of 12 months may not be enough. With its economy junked by ratings agencies – and amid mass condemnation of the ongoing purge that has detained 40,000 people – Turkey is prepared to let its current climate of uncertainty be the new norm.

Image: Alamy

Good connection

Twenty-six years after completing Zürich’s central Stadelhofen Station, Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava – who recently completed New York’s long-awaited World Trade Center Transportation Hub – will return to the bustling site in Switzerland to build a striking new office building. Commissioned by multinational insurance firm Axa, the five-storey structure – which is topped with a garden and complete with 1,000 underground parking spots for bicycles – is designed to improve connectivity and ease commutes. The station, which sees some 80,000 people pass through each day, is one of the most crowded in the country and numbers are expected to jump in the coming years. Calatrava’s glass-faced office block hopes to address the issue by improving pedestrian flow around the station’s plaza.

Image: Andrew Francis Wallace/Getty Images

Talking shop

Sears may have finally closed its flailing flagship in Toronto to make way for rival Nordstrom but the department chain is determined to win back the hearts and minds of Canadians. After unveiling a new logo last month – doing away with the bold blue-and-white typeface in favour of a black streamlined version with a subtle red-rimmed maple leaf – the company rolled out a fresh store design in the suburbs of Thornhill in Ontario this week. The Promenade Mall outpost has been scaled back, with retail space occupying one floor instead of two. “It’s a big departure from your typical Sears store,” says Francine Kopun, business reporter for the Toronto Star. Unlike other outlets where a dizzying array of cosmetics greets customers at the entrance, this location opens up to a spacious “decompression zone”, which allows customers to survey the shop’s layout. It remains to be seen if the company’s strategy will prove successful but some industry observers are sceptical because a sizeable chunk of Sears Canada’s profits flow back to the US HQ instead of being reinvested in the Canadian operations.

From Monocle 24

Image: Wildcat Dunny

Seattle: Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park in Seattle draws scores of visitors every day. It’s a park, for sure, but it’s also the site where a coal gasification plant once stood – and that industrial past is still very much present.

From Monocle Films

Secure influence, Charleston

In a former jail now home to the American College of Building Arts, students are learning traditional restoration techniques and preserving their city of Charleston, South Carolina, in the process. David Kaufman visits the school offering hands-on building experience, which included the renovation of its HQ, the Old Jail.

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